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Goff Criticises Maori Moves To Support National

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Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

by Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, Nov 13 NZPA - Maori Party MPs are getting positive feedback from hui discussing whether the party should support the National government, but Labour leader Phil Goff says they are taking a big risk.

National is finalising support deals with ACT, United Future and the Maori Party after Saturday's decisive election result.

Maori Party MPs started conducting 40 hui yesterday and will have completed 18 by the end of today on a draft agreement with the intention of giving Prime Minister elect John Key an answer by Sunday or Monday.

The deal involves ministerial positions outside cabinet and policy concessions, which included movements on the Maori seats and the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the constituency wanted the party to be in "a strong position of influence, to look out for their interests" and there had been no dissension.

The party's Te Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira, told NZPA after attending hui in Northland at Waipu and Wellesford, with another scheduled for tonight in Auckland's Henderson, that consultation was going "bloody fabulous".

"People are wanting us to have a shot, they're cautious but they are saying go for it anyway."

He ranked support at about 98 percent.

The party assured people that it would remain outside Cabinet and keep its independence while making advances for Maori.

"If it's possible for us to get appointments with budgetary responsibility outside of Cabinet and the trade-off is not something too nasty, then why not?"

Mr Goff said the party was binding itself to National for three years without knowing what its policies would be. He said the party could suffer the way New Zealand First did for going with National after winning Maori seats in 1996.

"If I was thinking in a narrow, partisan and selfish way I'd say that may well be good for Labour. I think, however, our position would have to be what is good for the interests of New Zealand ... of Maori."

Mr Goff doubted National could assure the party that it would protect Maori from rising unemployment and that it would not cut education or health services.

He said the vote among Maori was overwhelmingly in support of Labour not National.

While Mr Goff said he respected what Doug Graham achieved in a National government getting Treaty deals which Labour continued, overall National had failed Maori.

A spokesman for Mr Key said the comments were patronising and National was clear what its policies were.

"We're in the process of forming a government and we don't really have any interest in what he has to say," he added.

The Maori Party declined to comment on that issue.

ACT and United Future have already agreed to give confidence votes to the Government, giving Mr Key 65 confidence votes in the 122-member Parliament.

With the Maori Party he will have 70, an overwhelming majority against the 52 held by Labour and the Greens.

ACT leader Rodney Hide told NZPA that he and National were still looking at policy and would not confirm his deputy Heather Roy being offered consumer affairs

"The structure comes later in terms of ministerial posts, it's the policy first."

United Future's deal is all but signed. Mr Dunne was Revenue Minister under the Labour Government and may retain that role.

Mr Key intends announcing his full cabinet on Sunday or Monday and having it sworn in on Wednesday.

Mr Goff would not try pre-empt the announcement or schedule his own shadow line-up for the same day.

"I don't want to play any silly games with John. This is National's time, he deserves his day in the sun."

Mr Key has set a fast pace on the deals with the goal of leaving on Thursday for Peru where the Apec summit meeting will focus on the international financial and economic crisis.

He spent today meeting business and union leaders including people from Business New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Tourism Industry Association, the Council of Trade Unions and the Public Service Association.

NZPA PAR mt mgr

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